I refer to the announcement by the government on the implementation of a five-day work week for civil servants. I understand that the office hours will be from 8am to 5pm. I am a civil servant in Sabah, and like most of my colleagues and other civil servants that I have spoken to regarding the five-day week, we are disappointed that none of the Sabah ministers have spoken out against it for civil servants based in Sabah.
The sun rises and sets an hour earlier in Sabah compared to the Peninsula though the time zone has been synchronised nationwide. For those of us who usually do our sporting activities and exercises after office hours, we only get about an hour at the most of light before it gets dark.
If Sabah decides to implement the 8am to 5pm office hours, then we might not get to do exercises like jogging and walking. Although we can do these activities even after the sun sets, most people would rather not due to safety reasons.
Another problem with extending office hours to 5pm is that there are many civil servants who do commute long distances to and from work, some as far as 100km each way. The reason being it is cheaper to live outside of the major towns, for example Kota Kinabalu.
Many civil servants also still tend their fields and fruit orchards to supplement their income. With the introduction of these extended working hours, these people will be walking home in the dark, which again poses problems such as safety, not to mention loss of income since they cannot tend their fields and fruit orchards.
I suggest that instead of office hours ending at 5pm, it would be better if office hours starts earlier at 7.30am and finishes at 4.30pm in Sabah.
I am disappointed that ministers in Sabah never even bothered to consider these valid problems as well as other problems like the higher prices of goods in Sabah as compared to the Peninsula; the poor quality of education, the lack of basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity, and water, the influx of illegal immigrants and Sabah being the centre for sex trafficking in Malaysia to name a few.
A recent article in a local newspaper highlighted the plight of primary school children who have to travel in wooden boats, risking their lives each day in order to reach their schools. I have read that some children in rural areas have to leave their homes by 4am, to trek through jungles and hills in order to go to school.
It is sad that the Sabahan ministers and politicians have time to discuss matters such as how to increase the ratings of Sabahan Akademi Fantasia contestants and forming fan clubs for these contestants complete with grand launching ceremonies, while being numb to more pertinent matters.